What are the Symols of Confirmation?

The Symbols of Confirmation

Symbols come in many forms through life.  Sometimes they are but gestures or words.  Often they are physical signs of what is to come…such as when you drive down the road a sharp arrow pointing to the right or left indicates a sharp turn ahead, a red light indicates 'stop', a green light indicates 'go'.  Life, in general does not give us such physical symbols but non-the-less we pass through signs and symbols every day.  Some we recognize, some we don't.        
         
All sacraments share a symbolism in their connection to the Holy Spirit.  The Communion Host is a physical symbol of Christ's body; prayer is a spiritual symbol of our connection in speaking to God.

The seven symbols of Catholic Confirmation are:

  • Community   The community of our church is the primary symbol of Confirmation.  The Sacraments of Baptism, Confirmation, Communion are the sacraments of initiation into the community of the church.

 

  • Baptism   Confirmation begins at Baptism.  They are one in the same, a beginning and a completion, and yet neither is whole without the other.   In the Eastern Church were Baptism and Confirmation are administered at the same time Baptism represents a cleansing bath while Confirmation is the anointing of oil or drying to complete the act.  The water of Baptism washes away Original Sin while the oil of Confirmation provides the sweet fragrance of God's sanctifying grace.
  • Anointing   Since ancient times oil has been a symbol of strength, healing and agility.  For Jewish people oil is a sign of God appointing someone to be a priest, prophet or kind.  The Hebrew word 'messiah' means 'anointed' and Jesus became 'the anointed one' to Christians. Many Christian Scriptures were written in Greek where 'the Anointed One' translates as 'Christ'.  The sacraments of Baptism, Confirmation and Eucharis initiate us into the community anointed in continuing the vocation of the Messiah, the Christ.

 

  • Touch   Since ancient times extending hands over one's head or placing hands upon someone was a sign of calling the Holy Spirit. The touch is only a symbol for Confirmation.  All seven sacraments employ some symbol of touch. At Baptism the priests lays his hands on the baptized to mark them with the sign of the Cross.   In Reconciliation the priest lays his hands on the head of the penitent and proclaims absolution. At the Eucharist the priest extends his hands over the bread and wine and prays to the Holy Spirit to turn them into the Body and Blood of Christ and we consume that Body and Blood.  In Confirmation the bishops lays his hand upon the head of the confirmed and prays that the Holy Spirit will descend upon them.  In the Sacrament of Holy Orders the bishop imposes hands upon the person being ordained.  During Matrimony (Marriage) the priest extends his hands over the couple who have spoken their vows and calls upon the Holy Spirit to help them remain faithful within the covenant of marriage.  And in the Anointing of the Sick the priest imposes hands while praying over the person he is anointing.
  • Words   Words are also symbols used in Confirmation.  The reading from Scripture, the homily, the prayer for the sevenfold Spirit teaches the meaning of the sacrament.  The presider says, "Be sealed with the gift of the Holy Spirit".  The candidate chooses a name with personal meaning to the candidate.  During Confirmation one receives God's mark, his permanent seal, and are given the seven gifts of the Holy Spirit.  The Holy Spirit is God's breath in us that gives us strength, energy, enthusiasm and a special divine life. The Holy Spirit gives us our identity, tells who we are…we are the Body of Christ.

 

  • The Minister  When the Sacraments are celebrated a minister always leads the community in prayer.  At Confirmation the bishop presides but ordinarily the parish priest leads prayers at Mass and other Sacramental services.  The bishop symbolizes initiation into a Church much larger than the local parish.
  • Eucharist   The final and most important symbol of Confirmation is the  Eucharist.  After Baptism and Confirmation, the Eucharist completes the initiation process.  In Baptism sins are washed away; in Confirmation one is filled with the Holy Spirit and the Eucharist culminates our praise of God.

 

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